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28 Coxtie Green Road
Brentwood, England, CM14 5PT
United Kingdom




Filtering by Category: Butchery

Dry Aged Beef: Everything You Need To Know

Tom Pereira

You've probably seen dry-aged beef on the menu at your local butchers or favourite steak house, but what exactly is it and is the higher cost justified? We're here to settle the beef when it comes to dry-aged meat and explain how we dry-age, why we dry-age and what's in it for you!

Here’s what you NEED to know:

-                    Dry ageing uses airborne bacteria present all around us, meaning that it’s a super safe practice using the good old fashioned air that we breathe in every day!

-                    The dark crust on the outside of the beef carcass (as long as created in precise, dry conditions) is completely safe to eat and made by enzymatic build up…..minced down it has a wonderful flavour and is a bit of a secret ingredient!

-                    The reason it is not so widespread is that it isn’t commercially viable….vacuum packing ageless products makes far more money as you are literally selling blood and moisture that has not left the muscle. It’s also why commercial meat has no flavour!
-                    Read on for more!


The Original Gangster of Superior Meat


With the rise of premium, artisan cuts of meat everywhere in recent years you could think that dry-aged beef was a recent culinary creation, but you'd be wrong! Far from the latest restaurant trend or fad, dry-aged meat has been on the menu for centuries – and there’s good reason why.


Dry-ageing meat is a long-established process which originated sometime in the 17th century - as we can see in this fine piece of art painted in 1655. It came about when butchers discovered that meat which had been hung and dry-aged developed a superior texture and deeper flavour compared with its fresh counterparts.


It's a trend with tradition and one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to butchery. Modern technology has since allowed for more efficient and controlled methods of ageing, but the basic principles and desired outcome remain the same as our ancestors would have experienced!


The Dry-Ageing Process


Whether you’re a meat mastermind or a beef beginner, you’ve probably realised that the crucial part of the dry-ageing process is the ‘dry’ part! This means removing moisture from the air and the meat to let the dry-ageing do its magic.


Dry-ageing beef can be achieved by hanging meat in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment from anywhere between 4 weeks to many years! Our gold standard is in between the 35 to 60 day mark but on some parts of the carcass this can and may be tailored to a shorter or longer length of time.


Here’s a breakdown, pardon the pun, of what happens to the meat in this time:


·       The cold temperature (between 0-3 degrees) and lack of humidity (50 - 85%) preserve the meat to enable ‘controlled decomposition’ – doesn’t sound appetising but that’s what’s happening!

·       Airborne bacteria activate enzymes in the meat which breakdown connective tissues and muscle fibres, tenderising the meat

·       Water evaporates from the beef (something you don’t get with wet-ageing) and this moisture loss results in a reduced weight of meat but a more concentrated flavour – you end up buying all meat and no waste liquid!

·       Oxidation and evaporation create a protective crust around the exposed surface of the meat, under which enzymes and proteins work to mature the flavour


Think of dry-aged beef as the carnivorous equivalent of a fine wine or mature cheese – the yield isn’t as high, it costs a bit more but the taste and experience are incomparable to lower quality counterparts!


The Dry-Aged Difference


If by now you’re thinking “sounds great but I thoroughly enjoy the fresh meat I usually have” then read on to discover just how dry-aged beef delivers to all of the senses above and beyond your everyday meats.


Taste – Removing moisture from meat condenses its natural flavour, for a beefier taste with a deeper and richer flavour profile. The meaty process of getting our dry-aged beef just right is worth the effort from the very first forkful - there's no miss-steaking the superior taste of a dry-aged cut of beef!


Texture – Dry-aged beef is as tender as can be, giving a mouth-wateringly soft texture that's incredibly moreish. This tempting texture is all thanks to the enzymatic activity encouraged by dry-ageing, which breaks down muscle fibres and connective tissue to make them softer and easier to chew. This ease of eating paired with a superior flavour is a winning combination for any carnivore!


Appearance – Remember Rembradnt, our painter from earlier? Well we think he was right in recognising dry-aged beef as a piece of art. In fact, some say the dry-ageing process is more of an art than a science! You can expect your dry-aged beef to be darker in colour thanks to the maturation process, with lovely marbling all of the way through and a more robust shape.


Aroma – Meat mavericks and carnivore connoisseurs liken the aroma of a fine dry-aged beef to a rich and buttery popcorn, a nutty and earthy woodland, a sumptuous and decedent blue cheese and even freshly foraged truffles! We’re all for the theatrics of their descriptors but in our words dry-aged beef has the same appeal on the nostrils as a freshly carved roast joint – simply inviting and drool-inducing!

roja blanca dry aged beef

Thomas Joseph Dry-Aged Beef


·       Our beef is dry aged in-house using our purpose-built cold store with a dehumidifying system to filter, purify and dry the air to our specific requirements – we remove over a 1 and a half litres of water every day from our cold stores

·       We also use Himalayan salt blocks in the atmosphere to further dry and purify the air using their antibacterial properties. We feel the salt adds a depth of flavour to our meat along with seasoning it for a long as it takes!

·       We’re experts in tailoring the ageing process to specific parts of the carcass, so that each cut can reach its full potential

·       We love to hear from you – if you have a specific dry-ageing request, drop us a line and we’ll see if we can make your dry-aged dreams come true! (Visitors MORE than welcome J)

The 7 Questions you MUST ask your Butcher Before Buying Steak

Tom Pereira

Outlined below are the 7 most prominent questions to ask your butcher (according to us at Thomas Joseph Butchery) before running home to get that cast iron skillet on the heat!


1.     Where is it from?

2.     What breed of animal is it?

3.     How was it reared?

4.     How old was it?

5.     How has it been hung and aged?

6.     How do I store?

7.     How do I cook?

Grass Fed, Dry-Aged T-Bone Steak

1.     Where is it from?


Probably the most important question, provenance. You want to know and understand exactly where your meat is coming from as of paramount importance. If you don’t want to know, you’re a lot safer going to the supermarkets where they really will have no idea. Your butcher should be able to easily tell you the county or area, which farm it’s from and ultimately, the farmer’s name. We live in the 21st century where through commercialisation this information has been neglected, warranted unimportant. However, the opposite is undeniably true. The fact is that different breeds taste different, different ways of rearing livestock taste different and different farms have different standards. If you are discerning about the food you put on the table, believe in ethically reared, sustainable meat of the highest quality and want to be engaged with the farm to fork process, you must know where your meat comes from.

Grass Fed, Dry-Aged Sirloin Steak

2.     What breed of animal is it?


Breed is another hot topic, one that the commercial enterprises just cannot compete with. In the UK, we have native breeds that are designed to live outside, withstand our climate and ultimately grow slowly with the right proportions of muscle and fat. Unfortunately, due to the nations desire for cheap meat, we have adopted bigger continental breeds that grow twice as big in half the time (we exaggerate for effect). Needless to say that if you are trying to make money, then this is where you will go. The drawback to these “race to the finish animals” is that you will most certainly notice – they have no taste. The fact is that native breeds in the UK grow slowly, lay down fat properly and when fed on grass taste phenomenal. They are able to stay outside and endure tough climates due to many generations of evolution and are a superior product, by a country mile. That’s why at Thomas Joseph Butchery we support slow grown natives that are free range and grass fed. For a full list of native breeds, visit


Grass Fed, Dry-Aged Fore-rib of Beef

3.     How was it reared?


In tandem with point 1, this is critical for two reasons. As an ethical standpoint first and from a quality perspective second. Ethically speaking, animals like cows should never be kept inside unless poor weather conditions mean it is too dangerous to be out or that there is so little food that they require feeding and shelter. Grain fed and barn raised animals are unhealthier for a plethora of reasons but for now, we’ll just outline a few:


-       Grain fed, barn raised animals live, eat and breathe in a confined space next to other animals and walk among their own excrement and faeces for extended periods of time.

-       All cows are ruminating animals designed to eat grass but fed grain to make them grow faster in a shorter space of time that transpires into lower quality fat with higher levels of toxins.

-       Grain fed, barn raised animals require far more hands on treatment from farmers. Due to their cramp living conditions the animals will have more chance of becoming unwell and therefore may require antibiotics and medicinal treatment.


When talking about quality, we aren’t just talking about taste! Free range grass fed animals have been proven to carry higher levels of CLA (300-400% higher!) and omega 3 EFA’s compared to their grain fed, barn reared counterparts. They also boast four times the amount of Vitamin E and increased levels of antioxidants such as beta-carotene found in the pigment of the grass. As a note, these animals love to roam open pasture and at Coxtie Green Farm the cattle are given over 1 acre per animal to really explore. Free range, grass fed farming is far more sustainable. The animals eat off the land and don’t incur any additional carbon costs associated with buying in grain. At Thomas Joseph Butchery, we only stock free range and grass fed animals that are slow grown, hand picked for their quality and farmed to the highest ethical standards.

Dry-Aged Fillet Steak

4.     How old was the animal?


We know that ageing beef is one way to improve the flavour of a carcass but maturing on the bone is just as important. Most animals in the UK will be slaughtered before 30 months as after this time it makes breaking down the carcass somewhat more difficult due to the spinal column being removed at the slaughterhouse. What is a true shame is that by ignoring this period of time over thirty months (OTM) we are missing out on some of the best beef that has quite literally matured for months and maybe years longer! Always ask your butcher how old the animal was, this information should be easy to find and if nothing else is a good area for us meat lovers to start finding out about own our personal preferences. We have found that generally, the older the better and are happy to have animals well over the thirty month period. By selecting animals that have had the chance to lay down fat within the muscle over an extended period of time we feel that the taste is somewhat unique and why our OTM beef is a class act.

Grass Fed, Dry-Aged Tomahawk

5.     How has it been hung and aged?


Another hot topic at the counter – hanging and ageing. There are some golden rules when it comes to meat preparation and preservation. Generally speaking, beef should be aged for a minimum of 3-4 weeks. This allows time for the carcass to take on depth of flavour and tenderise.  Meat should always be dry aged in a cold store and not wet aged in a vacuum pack bag. Dry ageing and hanging allows the meat to become more tender and flavoursome over time whilst preserving the meat as the bacteria in the surrounding air (that are harmless) try to penetrate the carcass. There is a stark difference between the two methods; wet ageing isn’t losing any of the moisture and blood while dry ageing is allowing the moisture within the meat to be drawn out into the atmosphere. This is one of the reasons (alongside the taste and quality) why dry aged meat is more expensive. However, when you compare it to a wet aged steak, you will notice that minimal liquid is present in the bag. This is because the additional liquid has gone and what you are left with is prime steak compared to opening the wet aged packet and being met with a bag full of blood you cannot use. Vacuum packing is fine after ageing but the issue crops up when the steak is aged solely in the packet. Lastly, dry ageing should take place in specific conditions to create the right temperature, humidity level and air flow to allow meat to age at the required rate and for any length of time. Although further dry-ageing isn’t necessarily required, it is fascinating to allow the ageing process to take the meat to a completely new level of meat deliciousness!


Always ask your butcher how long specific cuts have been aged so that you can get a feel for what different lengths of time taste like and which is your preference. At Thomas Joseph we aged for a minimum of 28 days dependant on fat covering and outside temperature and have found that the optimum length of time to be around 50 to 60 days, although we do take some thing far longer! We encourage you to explore the age curve and get hold of some old beef when you can!

Dry-Aged Rib of Beef

6.     How Do I Store?


Buying a good quality steak is one thing, keeping it fresh is another! The best thing you can do (if you are going to use your steak within 2-3 days) is place your steak on a wire baking rack in the fridge, allowing air to travel all around it. A large plate and committing to turning it over every day will suffice! Vacuum packing is fine but we would suggest taking it out a day or 2 before to allow the moisture around it to disappear. The outside airflow will slowly dry the exterior, allowing you to have the perfect canvas for that glorious crust. At all costs, don’t leave your steak in a bag with air. The air surrounding the steak will make it sweat and it will go off quickly compared to the other two methods. As a bonus, you are actually dry ageing your steak that little bit further when you leave it in the air and as an FYI – that’s how we started our journey into this game! If you cant use it, try and vac pack it before freezing to freeze optimally and when thawing out, put it into the fridge and allow it to come up to temperature slowly.

Grass Fed Dry-Aged Longhorn Beef

7.     How Do I Cook?


The final countdown, we’re nearly there! How do I cook is something that could be debated for centuries so instead of covering all the methods like sou-vide, reverse sear etc, we are going to cover what we do which has time and time again produced mouth watering steaks of any size.


An extremely hot pan is essential, make sure it is smoking! While your pan is warming up, salt your steak on either side. Leave the pepper until after as it has a tendency to burn during cooking. Before you put your steak in, put a generous dollop of grass fed butter in the pan. Be quick, it will burn within 5 seconds so get that steak in ASAP to the beautiful golden patch of bubbles. Now turning, the best advice we can give for a 10oz steak is to cook it on each side for one minute twice and allow to rest for a medium rare. For larger steaks above 600g, use the same process and then put into a 200 degree oven for 3 minutes initially and check with a thermometer. You want to hit 45 degrees for rare, 52 degrees for medium rare and 55-60 degrees for medium. Anything more than this is sacrilege! After the initial 3 minutes, put the steak back in 3 minute intervals until the desired temperature is found within the middle.

Grass Fed Dry-Aged Rib on the Bone

So there you have it, the 7 Questions you should ask your butcher, asked and answered! We hope it was informative, a little fun and gave you some ideas on what you should be looking for in your steak! As a thank you for getting to the bottom of this novel on all things beef, here’s 10% off your next purchase, just enter: QUESTION10 at checkout to redeem :)


Much Love,


Thomas Joseph Butchery and the CGF Team